Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Looking back at last month’s workshop

After a long absence, the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden held its first workshop of the year!


The Alembic Distillation workshop was held on Saturday, March 10.

Andrina Eyles

Under the supervision of Andrina Eyles, attendees learned how to distil essential oils from Buddha’s hand.  “It was fabulously scented and calming, using Buddha’s hand as an essential oil, perfect for using in an oil burner at home,” Garden Supervisor Vicky Barrett says.


The workshop was an opportunity to learn about distilling therapeutic oils and those for oil burners, cooking, baking, flavouring or for making herbal teas and hydrosols. As well as Buddha’s hand, attendees also got to work with Lemon verbena.


 “Lemon verbena as a hydrosol is useful in icings, tea and flavouring water. If there is enough interest we would welcome another workshop later in the year,” Vicky explains.

If you are interested in attending future workshops, like the Dig It! Facebook page.

Lemon verbena (in bowls)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

New workshop next month!

Are you interested in learning how to make floral waters and essential oils from herbs and flowers?
Come along to the Dig It! Garden where distiller Andrina Eyles will show you how to set up an Alembic still and offer demonstrations of the distillation processes involved in making these products.

Andrina studied with Alembic NZ and is an active member of the Aromatic Distiller group. 

Andrina's practices are based on sustainability, ethics, plants and flower remedies. She is a registered practitioner and tutor of First Light® Flower Essences of New Zealand. 

"Distilling comes naturally to me and I am able to put everything together in a logical and methodical sequence recording and monitoring my distilling processes," she says. 

After assisting with workshops for other groups for the last few years, Andrina started running  her own workshops last year. 

"I am passionate about the future of aromatic waters, as they can be powerful allies that uplift us through our sense of smell," Andrina says. 

Andrina's workshop will be held at the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden on 10 March, from 10am - 3pm.

Bring your questions along to share and learn.

The Details

When: 10-3, Saturday 10 March

Where: Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden, 14 Erson Ave, Royal Oak

Cost: $40. Morning tea and workshop notes provided.

This workshop is an all-day event, so make sure that you bring your lunch.

To book, contact:

Victoria.Barrett@ccsDisabilityAction.org.nz 021 0833 7868 (text)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Dig It! is a part of the Heroic Garden Festival!

Every year, the Heroic Garden festival gives garden enthusiasts an opportunity to visit some of Auckland’s most impressive private gardens. For the first time,  the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden has been included as one of the gardens to visit.

The festival will be held next week, 10-11 February, 10am-5pm.

Proceeds from ticket sales support the work of Mercy Hospice Auckland. Individual gate entries will cost $10 for an adult and $5 for a child.

You can find more information about the festival and how to book tickets at www.heroicgardens.org.nz.
Please review the programme so that you understand the courtesies that visitors need to abide by when visiting the gardens.  

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

State of the Garden, 2018

2017 has been a great year for the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden.

Beginning in February, when local MPs and members of the local board joined staff, volunteers and stake-holders gathered to re-open the garden to the public, 2017 has been a great year for the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden.

Volunteer Brendan Murphy has been involved with the garden since the beginning of the renovation process. The biggest change Brendan has noticed is the number of people who are now able to access the garden. “People can go anywhere in the garden without having to worry about bumps, and nobody’s going to trip over things,” Brendan notes. “There’s actually more garden area in beds than there was before.”

In the past parts of the garden were only partially accessible, and the surface was too uneven for anyone with mobility issues. For Garden supervisor Vicky Barrett, addressing this problem was a major part of the renovation plan.

“The key goal was to create a better teaching space, connecting the bubble house to the garden so that the workshop [attendees] could access the garden, and we could move back and forth,” Vicky says. “What we have done is by raising the beds and creating solid, firm pathways we have increased accessibility.”

Vicky says the increased access to the garden has doubled the number of volunteers who are able to be involved with it.

And because the garden is easy to access it is easier to keep it maintained. “It’s just clean lines and easy to manage, easy to mow, mulch and weed. More accessible to all people really,” Vicky says.

During the year, the Dig It! Garden hosted a series of workshops on organic gardening practices.  The workshops were run by a group of talented experts, including Derek Craig, Heritage Gardener and Science & Research Officer for Auckland Branch of NZ Tree Crops Association, Gardens 4 Health’s Richard Main and Dr. Robyn Gardner-Gee. The workshops covered a variety of topics including soil health, harvesting, micro greens, and growing edible plants.

The first new workshop will be on 10 March, focused on Alembic Distillation (“learning how to make essential oils from herbs and flowers,” Vicky explains).There will also be talks on Permaculture and disease and pest control later in the year. Vicky is also looking at doing some mosaic work during winter. 

And the garden has much to look forward to this year.

The first big event of the year is the Heroic Garden Festival, on the 10-11 February. Every year, the Heroic Garden festival gives garden enthusiasts an opportunity to visit some of Auckland’s most impressive private gardens. For the first time,  the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden has been included as one of the gardens to visit.

"This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our garden to the public, and hopefully attract some new volunteers," Vicky says. "The garden is peaking in its production so it is the perfect time to see it!"

Brendan’s focus this year is opening a small shop at the back of the garden, where people will be able buy produce, fertilisers, garden products and locally-produced art work from disabled artists.

“It would be quite good to get some people who have a skill building it. Not only is it us making a little bit of money out of it but people can be involved if they don’t want to just garden,” Brendan says.

While 2017 was a year of major accomplishments for the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden, what Vicky is most proud of is not the growth of the plants, but in the team that keeps them alive: the volunteers.

It has been opportunity for volunteers to grow as gardeners, and for people to discover their own specific talents - seed-sowing, planting, manicuring, staking, composting and mulching.  “It’s like a beehive, really,” Vicky says. “Everyone finds what they are good at and we work together to form this massive team.”

“I think it’s becoming a real Garden of Eden. Because I think the world is facing a real soil crisis and to have a place like this that’s been nurtured along healthy lines to grow nutritious food, this is going to be a real special place long-term,” Vicky says.

Story by Tim George

Friday, 2 June 2017

Looking back at last month's Fruit Tree Workshop

On the last Saturday of last month, the Dig It! Royal Oak Garden hosted another workshop on organic gardening. Run by Derek Craig, Heritage Gardener and Science & Research Officer for Auckland Branch of NZ Tree Crops Assoc., 25 attendees took part in learning about growing and cultivating fruit trees.

Derek Craig (centre) during last month's workshop

The workshop covered researching the different conditions fruit trees grow in, understanding the different rootstock, espalier shapes, pruning versus training techniques, feeding, watering, mulching to have healthy trees, safe netting techniques, pest and diseases recognition, and of course remedies.

CCS Disability Action's Barrier Free Advisor Vivian Naylor found the workshop extremely informative. "It was well attended and clearly appreciated by all, lots of questions," she said. 

Kim Williamson appreciated Mr Craig's expertise. "I was astounded by how much I learnt.  What a knowledgeable man he is and he explained it all so well. It’s also a wonderful garden to see there at CCS and you keep it in such a beautiful state."

The next workshop will take place on Saturday, 24 June. More information about this workshop will be available on our Facebook page shortly.

In the meantime, if you are visiting the garden be sure to try our new MINERAL MULCH FROM THE SEA which we sell by 40l bag for $9.98 or bring your own trailer $150 for 1 cu m , $250 for 2 cu m.

It not only mulches the fruit trees but acts as a natural fertilizer to feed the trees. It comprises seaweed, seagrass and sand to enrich your soil and increase microbial activity and drainage. As an opening special, this month you can buy three 40L BAGS for $20.00.